Distinguishing between real firearms and replicas can be difficult

Federal law exempts BB and pellet guns from having orange tips distinguishing them from firearms

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – On Wednesday, 22News told you about three people in Chicopee who were arrested for allegedly threatening several people with a pellet gun. But how hard can it be to tell a real firearm from a pellet gun? According to Northampton Police, it can be very difficult.

Federal law requires toy or imitation guns to have an orange tip at the end of the barrel to let people know they’re fake and that they don’t fire explosive material. But the law specifically exempts BB and pellet guns. BB’s and pellets are types of ammunition. They are usually loaded into air guns or rifles.

“Some of them do look very much like a real firearm,” Capt. John Cartledge told 22News. “Some are actually called ‘replica firearms’ so they’re made to look like the real model.”

In Massachusetts you don’t need an FID card to have an air gun. You do have to be 18 to buy one or with an adult to use one, unless you are under 18 and have a hunting license.

Northampton Police told 22News if you do buy a pellet or BB gun that comes with an orange tip, be sure to leave it on there so others can tell the difference.